The proposed regulation requires companies to prove that they did not produce certain goods on land deforested since December 31, 2020.
The law has been welcomed by EU institutes and nations as it will help reduce the bloc's contribution to deforestation worldwide. However, some critics have raised concerns about its impact on non-EU countries and small farmers.
The anti-deforestation law is part of the EU's wider Green Deal plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and will replace an existing law that aims to prevent the sale of illegally harvested timber products.
The European Parliament provisionally approved the regulation in December, and it is expected to be formally approved after a plenary debate on April 17, 2023. The law will be signed off by EU ministers a few weeks later and will take effect 20 days after that.
Once the law takes effect, companies trading in the EU will be required to comply with certain terms and conditions. The rules focus on ensuring that commodities and other goods were not produced on land that was deforested or degraded since December 31, 2020, and that their production complies with the laws in the country of origin.
Countries will be ranked as posing a low, standard, or high risk of producing goods linked to deforestation, with producers operating in high-risk areas being subject to extra scrutiny.
The EU says that the law will be accompanied by measures such as Forest Partnerships, which aim to help countries protect their forests and ensure sustainable trade while taking into account the specific needs of local communities and Indigenous peoples.
Companies will have up to two years to comply with the measures. The law is expected to create a centralized EU database and information system that will provide a complete picture of the way commodities are traveling across Europe and from which countries they originate.
The European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, has described the law as "the most ambitious legislative measure ever put forward by any country anywhere in the world to curb deforestation and forest degradation and to help us tackle the twin crises of global warming and biodiversity loss," as quoted by Carbon Brief.
While some experts have praised the law, others have suggested that it should be expanded to cover other types of ecosystem degradation.